How to Get the Lemons Back Out of Your Lemonade for Effective Thought Leadership

Tom Popomaronis | November 24, 2021

Reverse engineering a perfect recipe you somehow achieved without measuring ingredients is a tricky task. It’s not impossible, but it makes you wish you could turn back time and extract those ingredients out again – especially when someone else wants the recipe. And while there is no recipe for life and business, there are tools that can help us reverse engineer our success in the same way so that it can be effectively passed on to the next generation.

How does success become thought leadership?

No matter how much we document our business plan and strategy, we will still encounter those moments when we’re sure something does work, but we’re not entirely sure why it works. Maybe that’s how you feel about a certain company initiative, or maybe it’s how you feel about the booming success of your entire company. People want to know how you did it, and you’d probably like to shed some light on that because it’s both good karma and good PR.

Thought leadership represents the extraction of those “secret ingredients” that made you into who you are today. People naturally latch on to mentors and bathe themselves with other people’s success stories to find inspiration for their own goals. Whether or not they call it by name, people are constantly seeking out the wisdom that comes from thought leadership. The hardest part for potential thought leaders is reverse engineering this recipe and communicating it in a way that’s useful to other people.

As with most things, a proper framework can guide something seemingly nebulous into a repeatable process. Thought leadership is what I do for a living, and I’ve found three components — lemons, if you will — of success rise to the surface: mindset, actions, and results. The results, of course, become that perfectly blended lemonade that stands above the rest. Shedding light on each of these components is necessary, but none of them are sufficient on their own if you want to create repeatable success.

Calibrate a mindset

Why is one leader more confident than another? How does this mindset lead them to produce actions that then produce results? You know it when you see it, but you’re not always sure why. Someone’s personal philosophy, ethics, personality, behavior, and everything else that makes up the person themselves contribute to their mindset. This mindset is what makes your content worth reading.

Analyze your actions

Somehow you got from a mindset to a result. What occurred in between were your actions. These consist of programs, targets, sequences, projects, procedures, and implementations.

Actions are intertwined with results because the result is a mirror that reflects whether an action has been positive or negative, regardless of what was intended. Analyzing your actions creates a route that readers can either repeat or learn from but take value from regardless.

Recognize results

Results are the metrics we all recognize. These results are your stories. And it’s not just the good results that make for good stories. Some of the best pieces of writing are those that share examples of times you’ve experienced failures and hardships. Readers can learn just as much from the obstacles you faced and what they taught you as they can from success stories — sometimes more.

Good stories are memorable. Don’t underestimate the impact of sharing yours. These are your learning experiences in action, and they will serve as excellent guideposts for your followers.

Motivation matters

Thought leaders are just that – leaders. Without being able to share your successes and failures and analyzing the path to arriving there, it’s difficult to create impactful pieces. Evaluating your mindset, actions, and results and asking yourself how those three components worked together to concoct your success is a solid place to start sharing your stories as a true thought leader.

EVP, Innovation
Tom is a serial entrepreneur, product development expert, and content management strategist. Every hour of every day (perhaps too many hours) he focuses on strategies for our Executive Leadership Branding clients to build a powerful and credible online reputation.